While the “Combiner Wars” title isn’t very apparent so far, Transformers #40 continues the trend in this latest issue, with a big cross-over arc that teases more political aspects than it does simple fighitng. Honestly, I can’t tell what I prefer, but there are some definite improvements here and – at the very least – its unique among the current Trasnformers titles.
The official description from IDW:
The COMBINERS have arrived! STARSCREAM wrestles for dominance with OPTIMUS PRIME as surprising reinforcements approach—from the Lost Light!
While the lack of action may not please some, it adds a different light to the universe which, in a number of ways, harkens back to the original More Than Meets The Eye title (you know, before it became Days of Decepticon and then Transformers). The post-war Cybertron setting had some potential, as did a central storyline following a not-quite stable/in control Starscream. This issue and the ones before it bring back so many of these elements yet, at the same time, it still feels different.
Part of this is because I feel John Barber doen’t give the issue a singular voice – the issue jumps between Starscream, Prime, Prowl and a handful of other characters. The perspective is all over the place, giving a neutral stance on the vast majority of the narrative. While this works here – Barber even heavy-handily inserting news-style segments – it doesn’t have the same charge and dynamic to it. After all, the clues right up there in the title (Combiner Wars) so the inevitable is going to happen; something this issue does a great deal setting up.
Visually, I have the same issues with Livid Ramondelli’s artwork. I love the style, I do, but its overused and the gritty aspect only works in some areas. There are many instances here, with the browns and orange skies and rubble-strewn piles, but there are other times where it just doesn’t have the same effect.
All in all, despite a few complaints, there’s still a lot to do this. As someone who sat through all of Dark Cybertron, this is a definite improvement. It’s tighter, more refined and the political aspect between the two planets adds a fun little twist.